World Bank on Myanmar: New office, assessment programs

The World Bank will re-open its office in Myanmar in June. Will the European Union follow soon?

The recent political and economic reforms in Myanmar have led donors, including the United States, to suspend sanctions on the country.

The United States partially waived U.S. restrictions on global financial institutions in February. Although limited, the waiver has allowed the World Bank to conduct assessment programs in the country. Thus, along with the re-opening of its office, the bank’s officials, including Pamela Cox, will also be setting foot in Myanmar in June to gain “firsthand assessment of the situation.”

The assessment will guide the bank’s work in Myanmar. Cox, World Bank vice president for East Asia, said the bank is looking to create jobs, improve people’s access to finance and create opportunities for people in the country’s ethnic states. In addition, the bank will assess the investment climate in Myanmar to inform investors interested in doing business in the country.

Pamela Cox said the bank is also closely working with other donors to determine how best to sort out Myanmar’s debt. The country owes the bank $393 million, Agence France Presse reports. Japan has so far been the only one to announce debt relief for Myanmar.

The bank is careful not to move too fast in the country. Cox said the speed of the bank’s engagement with Myanmar will depend on whether reforms will be sustained.

The European Union, which suspended sanctions on the country for a year, has yet to announce when it will open an office in Yangon. Michael Mann, spokesperson for EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, said in January the office will open “as soon as it is administratively possible.”

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.